When Comelec Resolution No. 10727 was promulgated by the Comelec en banc on November 10, 2021, it already had in mind the integration of the IATF rules in the implementation of election-day procedure; thus, we now have certain innovations that will be implemented on election day.
Article IV of said resolution provides that the election day shall be on May 9, 2022 and the voting hours shall be from six o’clock in the morning until seven o’ clock in the evening. A Voter’s Assistance Desk (VAD) shall be established in each voting center to be manned by the PPCRV or any representative of the accredited citizen’s arm. In this way, the voters will be informed of their precinct numbers and sequence number in the voters’ list to avoid crowding and huddling near the door of the polling place. All voters are mandated to wear face masks and face shields for their own protection.
Article VI thereof also requires the establishment of a holding area for the voters who will be waiting for their turn to vote. It could be an adjacent vacant room or even in the open grounds. The process of voting shall follow the same procedure that we had in the past elections except for the fact that the members of the electoral board are required to regularly sanitize the furniture and paraphernalia (except those made of paper) necessary to conduct the elections. They shall also provide hand sanitizers and footbath at the entrance of the polling precinct. The voter is required to bring his or her own ballpens and any valid identification card, in case it will be required. At all times, there shall be no touching or physical contact with any person or any member of the electoral board, even in the giving of ballots to the voter, feeding the ballot to the vote counting machine, and in staining the forefinger of the voter. Immediately after voting, all voters are required to leave the premises to give room to other voters and to avoid crowding.
Express lanes and emergency accessible polling places (EAPP) for the elderly, PWDs and heavily pregnant women will be made available in all voting centers to avoid unnecessary inconvenience. Likewise, an Isolation Polling Place (IPP) shall be established for those voters who, upon temperature check at the entrance of the voting center, registers a body temperature of more than 37.5 degrees Celsius. These voters, although even some, could exhibit covid symptoms, will not be deprived of their right to exercise suffrage.
As usual, we should always keep in mind the basic health protocols, even if there is a decline in covid-19 cases in our country. We must never forget to observe one- meter physical distancing, disinfection of hands, and the proper cough and sneezing etiquette. There shall also be a covid-19 marshal assigned to see to it that all these protocols are followed in the voting center.
Lastly, no photograph taking is allowed in the polling centers, most especially inside the precincts while voting, much more, there shall be no taking pictures of the ballots.
In all electoral processes, even if we have new procedures, the objective is still the same – the right to cast our votes must proceed and must never be suppressed, with or without a pandemic. For a more detailed discussion, please watch our Election Day segment at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, Fridays at Regional News Group Luzon’s Morning Balitaktakan.
*** Comments or opinions mentioned in this article are made by me in my personal capacity as a lawyer and not as an employee of the Comelec.